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Santaluces Holds Off Coral Glades In Game Of The Week

A.J. Orrico had three hits, a run and two RBIs batting out of the leadoff role for the Chiefs on Tuesday.

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The annual game between managers Joe and Nick Franco typically brings out the best from their clubs. The two brothers have played nearly every season for the past dozen years, and Tuesday night Santaluces helped big brother Nick maintain bragging rights with an 8-7 win over Coral Glades and younger brother, Joe. Nick Franco now holds a 9-3 record in the “Franco Bowl” and has won the past three meetings.

Although the Chiefs (12-2) got off to a hot start, this victory was far from a sure thing. Santaluces jumped ahead 5-0 in the second, only to watch as the Jaguars (4-5) rallied back to put the go-ahead runner on base in the bottom of the seventh. NIck Paschal connected for his third hit of the night and scored on an RBI groundout from Jack Beard, as Kyle Durham moved within ninety feet of tying things up for Coral Glades. But Chiefs reliever Jamal Johnson induced an infield grounder to end the game and preserve the win.

“I know my brother pretty well, and I know they’re going to battle no matter what the score was, and they are going to play hard and gritty and that’s to be expected by any team that’s coached by Joe,” Nick Franco said. “Jared Petronis pitched another outstanding game, and we were a little more cautious with his pitch count because he’s already got a lot of innings under his belt. He was pretty dominant again tonight, like he’s been all year. Give Coral Glades credit for making it a ball game. They could have easily tucked their tails in and made it a non-interesting game. But that’s not Joe’s style.”

It was not the Jaguars’ style either. After Jared Petronis delivered a gem with five scoreless innings that earned him his fourth win of the year, Coral Glades batted around the order and tallied six runs in the bottom of the sixth to get right back in the contest.

“Santaluces has a great baseball team this year and they do all the little things well to win baseball games,” Joe Franco said. “I’m proud of my kids also being able to come back down 8-0 to make it a great game. It was a fun atmosphere tonight for baseball.”

Santaluces starter Jared Petronis struck out four while allowing a hit and a walk in five scoreless innings.

The Chiefs got off to strong start at the plate to grab the lead right away. The first four batters all connected for singles to right field, with Angel Diaz driving in the first run of the day on an RBI to right that pushed home M.J. Restivo.

“Always in practice we’re always working on going to the right side and today we locked in to hit it where it’s pitched, and he was mostly pitching away so we executed that way,” Angel Diaz said. “It feels great because we executed everything properly, we jumped on him quick and we hit the ball well.”

Santaluces batted around the order to break things open with four runs in the second. Eathyn Little walked, Jamal Johnson hinted at a bunt attempt and then slashed a double into right field and A.J. Orrico walked to load the bases. Diaz then delivered a liner to center field that drove in two and Petronis added to his own cause with a single past second that pushed across two more.

The Chiefs added on some valuable insurance runs late. Orrico lined a two-RBI single to center that drove in Johnson and Neiko Megrichian in the fifth, and Diaz doubled and scored on an RBI from Petronis in the sixth.

“Our hitters had a very good approach today early in the game,” Nick Franco said. “We talked about how strong the wind was to right and how the ball wasn’t carrying at all to left and that we needed to have a right-side approach. We work on that at practice all the time. Hat tipped to the hitters; we talked about it, we had a plan, we executed our plan and we got a comfortable lead early. I wish we could have made it less interesting, but hats off to Coral Glades for battling back. But I’m pleased with how our guys responded, because in the past we’ve tucked our tails in how we have responded and let that effect us. Ultimately, we made pitches and we executed on defense. Heck of a job by our guys and a heck of a job by their guys.”

Santaluces has already won nearly as many games as last season and the team is clicking well. The players communicate great and are playing team baseball the likes of which every coach hopes to see his guys playing. There is no question that this team is united and enjoying this special bond together.

“I feel like this year we’ve grown as a team together,” Diaz said. “Last year we were kind of struggling with that and this year we really worked on that and we came became more of a family and working together.”

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